It wasn’t meant to be an experiment, at least, no one made such a declaration.
So, there will be no credit for altruism, no applause for reducing our carbon footprints, no awards for setting an example for other companies.
It was simply a matter of circumstance.
My company, a mainstream big-city daily newspaper, is between offices.
The lease expired on our old offices, and the new offices in another building a block or two away are under renovation and not ready for us.
So, every employee of the paper has been working remotely from home for the past three weeks, and for another week or two to come.
From all (i.e. reader) appearances, there hasn’t been any change in our products as a result. The print edition is still showing up on people’s doorsteps six mornings a week, and the online edition has been updated as well as it was before.
Meanwhile, many employees are saving money: commuting expenses, coffee money, lunch money, and more, no doubt.
Reporters, of course, still have to go out into the world to get their stories, and ad sales people are probably traveling to see clients.
But for editors like me and some people in other departments, our journey to work consists of strolling from one room to another at home, booting up our computers, and reporting for duty in our online workplace — from where we work everyday, anyway, even when we’re all sitting in the same room. We communicate through the company’s Slack program and we pick up stories to edit and photos in our centralized online folders.
It’s very cool. Personally speaking, there is zero difference in the work process and flow, except I tend to work beyond my shift’s end when I work from home. My rationale: I would have spent 75 minutes traveling home from the office, anyway.
But more important to Mother Earth, of course, is that many of us are reducing our carbon footprint at a time when mankind may be facing the real possibility of extinction — or at least, the end of modern civilization as we know it — because of climate change brought about in part by our carbon emissions.
True, our carbon savings may be minuscule in terms of the global picture. But many politicians, activists and even a columnist or two in my paper believe that everyone one of us, you included, should do our bit to save the world. Every little bit helps?
Of course, we will move into our new offices soon because that was the plan all along. A lease has probably been signed, rent paid.
But when it’s time to renew the lease, the company may very well consider what can be saved by doing away with rented brick-and-mortar spaces.
If not before.
Many newspapers have already cut their staff numbers to the proverbial bone and sold off real-estate assets as the industry struggles through the transition process from print to digital.
It’s a given in the industry that newspapers will never again make the kind of money they used to make when they were “licences to print money.” They soon won’t be printing anything at all. Revenue and profit, if any, will come from their online publications.
Survival of the industry is not a given. Newspapers are in the advance stages of “climate change.” As they look for more ways to trim operating expenses, they will surely now see some office rentals as expendable.
They may simply not have a choice.
The employees of my company have made that decision more palatable for corporate executives, when the time comes.